Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2009 January 7

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January 7[edit]

Flickr account help![edit]

Now I know I won't find any actual help here, but I need someone to guide me in the right direction. You see, I have forgotten which email accesses my account to log in (actually, I don't believe I did forget, but when I entered my email and password it asked me what Flickr username I wanted to use - when I already had chosen before!). I now have no access to my account whatsoever, where do I go for help? (talk) 00:26, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

The Flickr help forum seems like a good place to try. Algebraist 00:28, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Flickr requires one to sign in with a Yahoo ID and password. --LarryMac | Talk 15:29, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Asian Travel Club[edit]

Does this company still exist? I have tried all their contact numbers and E-Mail contacts, and all fail. I have a membership with them and am unable to access their website with my membership number as it comes up as "invalid". (talk) 01:47, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

No need to duplicate your question. You can edit it by clicking the small "Edit" to the right of the question header line
Assuming you have got the contact details correct, your membership has not been suspended, and there is not some legitimate reason for them appearing to ignore you, I would be very suspicious. What with the current economic climate, they wouldn't be the only company to go bust recently. Unfortunately, if they are who I think they are, their website doesn't provide much info, and a Google search turns up a lot of timeshare sales sites, some porn sites and little else - though this search shows me an address in Singapore. If the company hasn't gone bust but has just "disappeared" with your money, I would get the local police involved as a matter of urgency. Astronaut (talk) 03:07, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
If you have an address (the website Astronaut dug up seems to have a copy of a postcard with one) you could contact the local chamber of commerce or what would qualify as the Better Business Bureau locally. And if they do owe you money/services get together all the related paperwork and contact the police and/or a lawyer. Maybe an embassy or consulate of the country the company has/had offices in would also help. Good luck.Lisa4edit (talk) 00:12, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Yes the company still exists, try calling +662 6933900

Company as buyer of last resort for own stock[edit]

Are there any corporate stocks which have a clause saying the company will buy them back at a specified price if they fall that low? NeonMerlin 04:03, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Many normal stock buyback plans will have a price range quoted, but it's not often that they will be authorized to buyback enough stock to act as a real price floor. The idea that either management or an outside firm could and would perform a leveraged buyout or regular tender offer acts kind of like an implicit price floor, but chances are that whatever is dragging down the market valuation will make the firm less attractive to the LBO/M&A artists as well. I can't think of anything else that approaches that kind of explicit guarantee, but am likewise interested. NByz (talk) 07:19, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
(e/c) I don't think that is permitted under most market's regulations. Share repurchases are pretty tightly regulated, and certain criteria have to be met to ensure all investors are treated fairly when a repurchase is pursued. I would think that this sort of preferential contract for some shareholders would break those rules, and it could also be used by the company to illegally manipulate its share price. Of course, stock buy-backs do happen quite frequently in an attempt by companies to prop up flagging prices, often following shareholder pressure, but I'm not familiar with any that have been contractually obligated. Rockpocket 07:25, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

buying realestate after foreclosure[edit]

Is it just a matter of negotiation with the REO dept of the mortgage company? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jttomgreen (talkcontribs) 15:10, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

It depends entirely on whether the company has a clear title to the property. There can be legal issues, and these would vary from circumstance to circumstance and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Also, different mortgage companies and banks will have different ways of handling these properties. Marco polo (talk) 17:59, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Real estate owned says the lender will either try to sell the property itself, or through a broker. If you asked, I'm sure they could tell you how to proceed. It's in their interest to do so. -- Coneslayer (talk) 18:18, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I bought a foreclosed house a few months ago here in Texas - the owner (on paper) was a bank I'd never heard of in Florida.
There are AT LEAST three mechanisms - but that varies by state.
One method is that the house is sold in the usual manner through a realtor - and the only thing that's really different from a normal seller is that the "Seller's Disclosure" that you're required to provide in Texas that says things like "The heating system is known to work" or "The garage door opener is known to be faulty" was checked as "Unknown/Untested" for every single item - which lowers the value of the property because if the heating system doesn't work you can't go back to them and demand that they fix it. The bank were prepared to haggle on price - but they wouldn't (or couldn't) answer any questions about the house AT ALL! We had to do all of our own research to find out how old it was, whether it had had any major problems, etc. We also somehow ended up 'assuming' (being liable for) a year's back-fees to the local home-owner's association - and all efforts to push that liability back to the bank or to the previous owners failed - so I lost out ~$600 because of that. Fortunately, the city taxes and everything else were up to date. CHECK THOSE KINDS OF THINGS!
The second method was for homes sold or refinanced under the HUD/VA systems - those are sold by some kind of auction mechanism. We bid on a couple of houses that way - and it's very frustrating. Basically, if you want to buy the house, you have to put in a sealed bid sometime before some arbitary deadline comes up. They examine the bids in a three stage process - first they open bids from people who lived in or owned the house before it was foreclosed. If any of those meet the estimated value of the property - then the highest bidder out of those wins the auction no matter what. If none of those bids come in - they go on to bids from people who promise to live in the home and not sell it again for at least 1 year (I think it was 1 year...something like that) - and again, if any of them meet the 'reserve' price - then the highest of them wins. If no "owner-occupiers" bid - then it goes on to any bidder - and the highest that meets their reserve gets it. If nobody makes the reserve then they schedule another round of bidding several weeks into the future and it all goes around again. As I understand it, they DO sometimes bias their decisions in the first two rounds to bias the results in favor of people putting down larger deposits - and who already have their financing tied up and ready to go. But it all happens with zero negotiation - it's a massive anonymous computer-driven system with no humans in the loop! HUD/VA homes are very carefully surveyed and often have had repairs to bring them up to a particular standard - so they appear to be what they seem to be with no hidden "gotchas" like property you buy from a bank. This method is very annoying. You don't want to pay too much so you want to bid low - but on the other hand you might have been prepared to pay more than the winning bidder actually got it for - but there is no second chance.
The third method is by live auction...I never had the nerve to try that - so I have no clue how it works in detail. What bothered me is that I'd want to get the house surveyed before I'd commit to buying it...and that costs money that you won't get back if you lose the bidding in the auction. That means it costs you a couple of hundred bucks just to enter the room to bid on a house...I wasn't mentally prepared to do that - although perhaps you get houses so much more cheaply that way that it's worth it. I don't know.
All three mechanisms have various 'get-out' clauses if the house turns out to be a disaster. Our house was VERY cheap because it had been vandalised by the outgoing owners - it's a brand new house (just three years old - and it seems to only have been lived in for about 10 months in all that time). It was an unbelievable wreck. Big holes in the sheet-rock (clearly made recently with sledge-hammers) - graffiti on many walls (slandering the bank of course!) - the carpets had some very unmentionable 'biological' things smeared into them (the carpets were the first things to go!) - every single door knob and light fitting was missing - and most of the electrical sockets and switches had either been smashed - had a wire undone inside - or were missing some screws or covers. The oven and dishwasher (both built-in) had lots of missing parts (it was quite a detective game to get them working again!)...buckets of paint had been up-ended on the garage floor. Fortunately - they didn't decide to mess with the roof or the plumbing. It saved me about 25% of the 'value' of properties like that to buy it (I payed $95k and the house right next door with identical everything sold for $125k about two weeks earlier - and it was ALSO a foreclosure - but not vandalised). I had it fixed up and looking like new for about $5,000 and two weeks of 'sweat equity' because I did all the work myself. If you had to pay someone to do it - it wouldn't have been a good buy.
SteveBaker (talk) 19:08, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Further to what Steve and Marco pointed out, also check up on any existing oral or written easements. Make sure you know how your house connects to the sewers and the utilities and whether any of your neighbor's connections run through your property. Get a written statement from all your neighbors that confirms they don't have any pending issues with the property as it is. If e.g. one of them would want one of your trees cut down that could immediately set you back anywhere from $600 to $3000 depending on what and where. Get any property you consider buying inspected, not only like an ordinary home inspection (roof!!), but by a plumber, an electrician, an exterminator and other experts as needed. As Steve pointed out, once your name is on the dotted line you're usually out of luck trying to get the party you bought the property from to own up to "surprising" defects like the shut-off for the water mains having been buried in the concrete of the driveway or the 3-prong outlets throughout the house only being wired for 2 wire. Banks and mortgage companies are not known for doing anything in the way of upkeep, but they have well established and efficient legal departments. Also be sure to check what happens to your property when nature turns unfriendly. (E.g. : are you liable for any road repairs after a mudslide or earthquake? Do you need and can one afford flood/hurricane/fire insurance? What happens to water run off from your neighbors' lots and your lot in heavy rains?) Don't assume anything. If you don't have confirmation that something works properly, go from the assumption you'll have to fix it. [1] The longer the property has been empty the more you should expect to have gotten broken, mildewed, eaten, rotted away, have something grown in[2]/into it etc. Carefully check out the prospects of the neighborhood. Particularly with HUD/VA homes {where repairs seem to be less of a headache) or part of a subdivision where every lot is/was in foreclosure. Ambitious upgrade and urban renewal projects are doubtful prospects [3] with all round budget cuts and deficits skyrocketing. If you aren't an experienced builder and have a lot of buddies to lend a hand, budget for lots of repairs or plan on finding new friends. Even if, there are things one simply can't do oneself and endless repair projects can wear you and your relationships out in a hurry. Try to leave as little as possible till after you've moved in. If you need somewhere to live in a hurry I'd say find something else but a foreclosed home. Lisa4edit (talk) 23:51, 7 January 2009 (UTC)


After reading the BCE entries, I am unable to understand how dates for pre-BCEra events, or births or deaths, are calculated. After all, no one knew that the birth of Jesus was coming , and were, therefore, starting to count "backwards". VCan you help explain how the dating was started? Thank you! (talk) 16:07, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

The Anno Domini calendar era (on which BC/BCE is based) was not proposed until 525 AD (and was not fully adopted in Europe until the 15th century), and preceding events were backdated. No one in the BC/BCE era used such terms, instead using local calendar eras. — Lomn 16:15, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
One common method was to date things in years of the current king's reign (or dynasty). By adding up the years of reign for each king since, you can eventually get to a known date. There is some margin of error, though, as not all these lengths of time are known precisely. Since this error is cumulative, events at the dawn of history are less precisely dated, unless we get lucky and they give some point of reference we can verify, like an eclipse or volcano. StuRat (talk) 17:09, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
The method that StuRat describes did not necessarily lead to large errors, since we sometimes find sources who date an event in the Xth year of King B's reign as also XXX years (more than 100) after King A came to power. So we often have reliable chronologies over several centuries for a given civilization. We are able to determine, for example, that the 5th year of King B's reign was, in our terms, the year 350 BC/BCE because we have a source that tells us that King C came to power 263 years after King B, and that in the 6th year of King C's reign, his kingdom was conquered by the Romans. So we know that the Romans conquered the kingdom 264 years after the 5th year of King B's reign. Meanwhile, Roman records show that they conquered King C's kingdom 667 years after the (traditional date of the) founding of Rome. So the 5th year of King B's reign was 403 years after the founding of Rome. Meanwhile, when the Christian calendar was proposed in AD 525, the year 1 was to be set as the 754th year after the traditional founding of Rome. Therefore, according to the Christian calendar the traditional date of the founding of Rome is 753 BC, and by extension, the 5th year of King B's reign would be 350 BC/BCE. Marco polo (talk) 17:57, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
But when we get to events like the Trojan War, dating becomes quite problematic, due to a lack of reliable references which place the time frame relative to a point of reference we can use. StuRat (talk) 20:19, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
As a supplement to the learned information supplied by my colleagues, you are I trust aware that "BCE" dating was not used during the BCE period, for the obvious reason that you mention. The "History" section of our article Anno Domini gives the history of that dating system, from which BC and hence BCE derives. DJ Clayworth (talk) 18:50, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
There's also the problem that we don't know exactly when Christ was born, but he most likely was NOT born in the year 1 AD or 1 BC (there is no year zero in either scale). From clues within the Biblical and extra-Biblical accounts, and attempts to align these events to other known dates, the three most likely years for his birth are either 6 BC, 4 BC, or 6 AD. And it wasn't asked, but he also wasn't born in December. Again, given clues in the Biblical text, he was very likely born in the spring sometime... 03:57, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

RSA/OCR word processing qualifications[edit]

I live in England, and I'm looking for a job. I've noticed that many clerical job ads specify RSA (or OCR, the same qualification apparently) II or III word processing (or equivalent) skills, as desireable or in quite a few cases essential. So I have three questions: 1. Can someone who took RSA II quite recently (since teh internets were invented, basically) tell me if it required much study, or if any Wiki vandal could pass in his sleep? I've heard that RSA was more common in the typewriter age, and included shorthand modules (audio typing was in RSA III, afaik) but it could hardly be the same exam nowadays... could it? 2. What, if anything, would be an equally useful equivalent? I already passed my Basic ECDL, which I'm guessing is equivalent to RSA I, but I've also heard of Advanced ECDL, CLAIT and ITQ as well as OCR/RSA. Are any of those at the same level as RSA II or III, and as widely known among employers? 3. Is RSA III just a more advanced version of II, or are they complementary? In other words, would it look strange to have passed III but not I or II? I'm thinking of paying up for a 1-to-1 crash course to pass RSA III within a few weeks, and based on answers to my first question I might ask about sitting the exam for RSA II as well. Many thanks in advance for helping me swim thru the alphabet soup...! — FIRE!in a crowded theatre... 18:17, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

I speak as one who has taught students to pass these qualifications. I've amended your asterisks to numbers to help with answering the questions.

1. Not really as there are different formatting techniques such as tables in Word at Level 3. Although there are RSA exams in audio typing and shorthand typing (both of which I have myself), they are quite different from RSA Word Processing. However, you should be able to pick things up quite quickly if you're tech savvy. Bear in mind that you will need to type at a certain speed (IIRC it's something like 55 words per minute) in order to complete the exam in the time allocated.

2. Advanced CLAIT is roughly between RSA 2 and 3. Some employers may have heard of the ECDL or CLAIT: these tend to be younger and possibly in larger firms - the one man bands don't have time to keep up with the plethora of qualifications on the market these days.

3. I see no problem with only having RSA 3 but you may consider doing 2 first to gain experience of the exam setting.

Hope this helps --TammyMoet (talk) 19:28, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

What the hell is wrong with this dog?[edit]

I think it's a trick of photography. The picture is obviously taken with a flash, and so the eyes look freaky. Nothing wrong with little Fido at all :) Belisarius (talk) 19:16, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I would agree, and he won't be winning any beauty contests either, the dog that is, not Belarius ;-)) Richard Avery (talk) 19:22, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I'd say someone has photoshopped the eyes. Dogs eyes aren't circular like that. StuRat (talk) 20:12, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Looks more like a fake or stuffed dog. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:23, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree that it looks stuffed. --Sean 13:10, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
It looks an awful lot like a hollow-face illusion. There is a video on the Grand Illusions site that will show you what I mean. (I've made one of those, and the effect is truly uncanny.) --Milkbreath (talk) 00:13, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, my guess is that the dog has had serious Periodontitis problems. In extreme cases, where dogs lose teeth from their lower jaw, the jawbone will atrophy and the dog will be literally left with no lower jaw. It would certainly result in serious facial deformity. The process is usually called Bone resorption, and our article on it is sadly lacking... 03:53, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Which logically would go next in the sqeuence, or what is the most logical order for these symbols to be arranged in?[edit]

Here are the symbols.

What would be the most logical choices for 6 and 7? Would there be a more logical order than this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:46, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

I would find it easier to justify B, A (as I can picture it as a 1-block snake that travels down, followed by a 2-block snake that travels down and wraps around, followed by a 3-block snake), but I'm unconvinced that there is a 'most logical' choice. If there is a 'correct' answer it will be the answer that involves thinking like the person who set the problem. (talk) 21:24, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
There's no logical answer, it's a stupid question. The snake thing gives a reasonable answer. The other way round can be justified as being something akin to alphabetical order (top row is A, middle B, bottom C) with shorter words coming before longer ones. There are numerous other justifications for each possible answer. I'd say the most logical way of ordering those symbols (but it's extremely subjective) would be to consider them as binary symbols, white is 1, black is 0. --Tango (talk) 21:55, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I'd put them in a cube. Why should they form a linear order? Ordering them would tell more about the person ordering if it told anything at all. I'm sure the Chinese have had enough time to think about ordering i-ching Dmcq (talk) 23:40, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
The two side columns clearly don't matter because they don't change. So were left with three blocks - each of which can be black or white - so we can represent them as binary numbers - a three bit binary number can have any value from 0 to 7 - and there are only 8 symbols so all of the values are represented. If black=0 and white=1 then counting the bits from top to bottom, we have 0,1,2,4,3,?,?,7 with 5 and 6 to choose between. It's odd that 3 and 4 are swapped because otherwise it would just be the counting sequence - but it's not. SteveBaker (talk) 00:38, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
If the pattern is regarded in its entirety, rather than as a sequence, then there is an inverted symmetry. 5 A B 8 is the inverse mirror of 1 2 3 4. Just adding for the fun of it, I agree with 86.139 (and first saw the 5 B A 8 fat snake movement too): there are several logical answers, and it's impossible to identify a "most logical choice". ---Sluzzelin talk 01:16, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Philadelphia Corridor, why "Philadelphia"?[edit]

The news lately has made mention of a "Philadelphia Corridor" in Gaza. How did it get this name? --Milkbreath (talk) 22:29, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Apparently the correct name of this strip of land is the Philadelphi Route or Corridor. Many English-language writers see Philadelphi as a typo and "correct" it to Philadelphia. According to our article and this source, the name is a code name randomly generated by the Israel Defense Forces and unrelated to the U.S. city. Marco polo (talk) 01:09, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Master! Your google-fu is plainly superior to mine! Teach me! (Thanks.) --Milkbreath (talk)
Thanks. It was indeed a matter of intensive googling. I tried a few searches until this search led, a bit elusively, to this. To confirm the "Yedda" clue, since I'd frankly never heard of Yedda and didn't want to stake my answer on it, I followed up with this search, which led to the confirming sources I provided. (I didn't consider the Wikipedia article sufficient confirmation, so I kept going until I found the Jerusalem Report article.) Marco polo (talk) 02:14, 8 January 2009 (UTC)